Listen to this story:
ROME – One week after Pope Francis was released from the hospital, having been admitted for a bout of bronchitis, the Vatican announced that he will not preside over his late-night Via Crucis on Good Friday as planned due to the cold weather.
In a statement Friday afternoon, the Vatican said that “due to the intense cold in recent days, Pope Francis will follow the Via Crucis this evening from the Casa Santa Marta, uniting himself to the prayer of those who will gather with the Diocese of Rome.”
The statement did not say who will preside over the Via Crucis in the pope’s place, but it is expected that the vicar of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, will lead the traditional Good Friday Way of the Cross prayer at the Colosseum.
Pope Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital last week after experiencing breathing difficulties and was diagnosed with bronchitis. He was treated intravenously with antibiotics and was discharged on Saturday and kicked off Holy Week by presiding over Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square the next day.
In a statement last Saturday, the Vatican said the pope’s Holy Week plans were unchanged, and that he would preside over his scheduled liturgies with a cardinal celebrating at the altar, which was the plan prior to his hospital stay.
Francis presided over a Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Thursday morning, during which the holy oils used in the church’s sacraments throughout the year are blessed, and he celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Casal de Marmo youth prison Thursday evening, washing the feet of 12 inmates, including two women.
RELATED: After season of division, Pope calls clergy to spurn ‘disunity’ and ‘polarization’
The juvenile facility was the same prison on the outskirts of Rome where the pope celebrated his first Lord’s Supper Mass on Holy Thursday after his election in March 2013.
RELATED: A decade later, Pope returns to youth prison for Holy Thursday
Pope Francis is scheduled to celebrate a Passion service commemorating Jesus’s crucifixion and death in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5p.m. Friday, with the preacher of the papal household, Capuchin Friar Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa giving the homily.
Traditionally held at 9p.m. at Rome’s Colosseum every year on Good Friday, the Via Crucis is the latest event on the pope’s Holy Week schedule, which this year will take place in an uncharacteristically cold spring.
Pope Francis is also expected to preside over the Easter vigil in St. Peter’s Square Saturday night, and he is scheduled to preside over Mass on Easter morning, after which he will give his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing, to the city of Rome and to the world.
There has been no indication so far that the pope will miss any of his other planned Holy Week and Easter activities.
Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen